The Character of Norma Jean in Shilo
Norma Jean Moffit is a major character in Bobbie Ann Mason's "Shilo" who undergoes a profound, yet subtle change. She had to marry at the age of eighteen to the man who got her pregnant, and in a cruel twist of fate, the child dies suddenly of crib death. Now at the age of 34, she is ready to have the life she feels she always should have had, however she is stuck in a loveless marriage to a man whose interests are the opposite of hers. Her decision to leave her husband, Leroy, at the end of the story seemed a long time in coming, and various aspects of her character revealed that desire. These aspects of her character were her devotion to self-improvement, her inability to communicate with her husband, and her apparent unhappiness that Leroy has returned home for good.
From the very beginning of the story, Norma Jean is portrayed as a woman continuously trying to better herself. She takes the opportunity of Leroy's rehabilitation from his accident to start bodybuilding. After the body building class is over, she takes a composition class. This pattern of improving both mind and body showcases a desire and willingness to improve her life. It may also reflect a desire to find hobbies outside of the home so she can get some time to herself. One suspects the underlying reason for this commitment to self-improvement, however, is to prepare herself for the eventual split from Leroy.
Both of the main characters in this story, Norma Jean and Leroy, have a problem discussing their feelings with one another. The dialogue in this story is a good example of two...